Meet the Correspondent: Marina Grechanik > Tel-Aviv, Israel$show=/search/label/Marina%20Grechanik

"Sketching is one of my passions. I don't feel comfortable when I leave home without a sketchbook and some pens in my bag. I think that my way to put things in my memory is to draw them. And taking pictures isn't the same thing.

I live in a very dynamic surrounding — Israel is a warm country with warm weather and warm people. Of course, we have seashores, which calm us a little bit. I love to sit in a corner of some Tel-Aviv coffee shop and explore relationships: between people, their environment, between myself. All this unique local mix of cultures, languages and styles is always a great source for inspiration. You need to be fast, because, as I said, everything is very dynamic. But that's why I love it so much.

Sometimes, I look around, and I find some usual items like sugar bags or napkins. I use them in my drawings to show the atmosphere. Sometimes I draw directly on placemats."

• Marina's art on Flickr.
• Marina's website.

Meet the Correspondent: Tina Koyama > Seattle$show=/search/label/tina%20koyama

"The dictionary says that a hobby is “an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation.” Although urban sketching certainly provides both pleasure and relaxation, I don’t think of it as my hobby. I think of it more as a way of life – something that has become such a normal part of my everydayness that it shapes how I view the world.

For most of my life I had both the fear of drawing as well as the desire to draw. In 2011, inspired by Gabi Campanario’s Seattle Sketcher column, I finally decided to overcome the fear. His drawings of Seattle – my birthplace and lifelong home – were of sights that I had seen many times, yet had never truly seen. I wanted to learn to see, and therefore experience, those locations (and any new ones that I travel to) more completely. Part 8 of the Urban Sketchers Manifesto, to “show the world, one drawing at a time,” has a flip side: Sketching enables me to see my own world, one drawing at a time.

In the last four years, it is not an exaggeration to say that Urban Sketchers has changed my life. I have met and sketched with many wonderful people around the globe, either at symposiums or during other travel, because the USk network brought us together. I sketch almost weekly with my local group, sharing sketches, art supplies and friendship. Even when I stay home and enjoy sketches online, I am still a part of that rich network, learning with every sketch about other people’s lives.

In May, my husband Greg and I went to France for the first time, and I sketched the Eiffel Tower. Sketching one of the world’s most famous icons felt like a dream come true – the ultimate in urban sketching. But although I can’t resist sketching world-famous icons whenever I’m fortunate enough to see them, for me, urban sketching is much more than that.

Urban sketching is a tree with its middle chopped away to accommodate Seattle’s ubiquitous power lines. It’s about a couple of women chatting over coffee, or about workers roofing the house next door. It’s about an excavator filling a hole where a cherry tree once stood. Or the Tibetan monastery I drive by frequently that I couldn’t resist because it’s bright orange. Urban sketching is a string band performing at a local farmers’ market – or perhaps in Villefranche-sur-Mer.

Celebrating the mundane as well as the famous is what urban sketching is all about. My sketches are not necessarily about “special” moments; they are moments made special because I sketched them."

Tina has been editor of Drawing Attention since 2013 and now serves on the Urban Sketchers editorial board. See more of her sketches on her blog, on Flickr and on Instagram.

Meet the Correspondent: Pete Scully > Davis, Calif.$show=/search/label/Pete%20Scully

"I am from urban north London, but now live in urbane Davis California. I sketch, I write, sometimes do things and go places and my name is Pete.

When not Davis, I sketch Sacramento, San Francisco, London, or anywhere else I happen to be. I tend to erase people and cars from my cities, but I'm starting to get over this.

Davis: calm, old-fashioned, progressive, quirky, very very hot in the summer. I use micron and copic pens, with watercolour."

• Pete's blog.
• Pete's art on Flickr.

Meet the Correspondent: Suhita Shirodkar > San Jose, Calif.$show=/search/label/Suhita%20Shirodkar

"I was born in Mumbai (Bombay) and lived in different parts of India until I moved to San Jose, California, where I now live.

Travel inspires my art, but, traveling or not, I try to view the world around me as a traveller would; so whether I’m capturing a moment of calm on the banks of the Ganges in India, or sketching over coffee at my local coffee shop, I aim to look deeply, and with wonder, at both the everyday and the exotic, the old and the new.

I love color. My sketch kit consists of Extra Fine Sharpies (the fact that they bleed into the paper as soon as they touch it works really well for me—it forces me to work super-quick), a small set of Prismacolor pencils and a little watercolor travel set".

Meet the Correspondent: Omar Jaramillo > Berlin$show=/search/label/Omar%20Jaramillo

"I was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador, where I studied architecture. I moved to Kassel (Germany) in 1999 to accomplish a master degree. Although I have always drawn and paint, it was not until I started studying in the Uni-Kassel, that I started keeping a travel sketchbook. I had a teacher there who used to do a lot of sketches when he travelled on university excursions. When he retired, I helped to organize an exhibition of his sketches. He brought a huge box full of sketchbooks he had filled since he was an architecture student. I spent a whole day selecting the most interesting drawings. It was a wonderful experience that opened my eyes to a new world. In the last 10 years I have the feeling of being in a long journey. I like to discover the cities where I live, to understand why a place is the way it is and what makes it different and unique from others. Drawing is for me a way to learn to love a place, to become part of it. I like to draw architecture but I am more attracted to urban scenery, portraying how people live in the city. Since I’m a foreigner, everything that locals find normal and taken-for-granted, for me is exotic. I always carry a small watercolor travel set from Windsor and Newton and my sketchbook in my bag. I always thought that drawing was a solitary experience until I found Urban Sketchers. It was amazing to find so many people doing the same thing. It is a great place to share!" • Omar's blog. • Omar's art on flickr. • Omar's website.

Meet the Correspondent: Luis Ruiz > Malaga, Spain$show=/search/label/Luis%20Ruiz

Galway's Fishy Past

 By Róisín Curé in Galway

I've lived in Galway for nearly 25 years, and in that time the most wonderful gems have passed me by, barely noticed in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. It has taken my urban sketching hobby to open my eyes to the glory that's all around me, right here where I live. Galway's Fishery Watchtower is, or was, just such an unexplored treat.

Walk down Quay Street in Galway City. through the throng of visitors, buskers, workers, students and the occasional vagabond and you come to Wolfe Tone Bridge, which crosses the rushing, racing River Corrib. After the intensity of Galway, your immediate sense is one of relief, as the wide open space of Galway Bay opens up to your left.

At the foot of Wolfe Tone Bridge there's a little walkway, spanning a few quieter metres of the River Corrib. The walkway leads to the Fishery Watchtower, a very pretty yellow building, designed in an Italian style that was popular at the time that it was built in 1853. Two brothers by the name of Ashworth, Quakers from Lancashire bought the rights to the stretch of river which the Watchtower overlooks. The river was rich in salmon, trout and eels, and the brothers built the Watchtower to monitor stock levels, poaching activity and even to hang nets out to dry. They were not synthetic then and could rot - the Watchtower has doors or windows on all four sides, allowing for a current of air to pass through.

I'd never darkened the door of the Fishery Watchtower until a few weeks ago. Driving past, I noticed that the door was open, and I had two hours before an appointment. As any urban sketcher will tell you...this is an excellent state of affairs! I crossed the little bridge and went inside. Two friendly guides greeted me, and explained that the Watchtower is now a museum dedicated to Galway's fishy past. There are nets and rods of all types, a model of the Fisheries and photos of Galway in times gone by. My favourite was one taken in about 1913 of a proud-looking young woman dressed in a bright red cloak, covering every bit of her save her face. The photo was taken by two Frenchwomen who were travelling photographers, and I doubt that the open, relaxed expression in the face of the subject would have been there if the photographer had been a man. I only think that because her expression was so noticeably different to most of those I've seen from the early days of photography.

The two guides were really helpful and didn't mind me getting out my folding stool and sketching for a while. You can see from the picture of the tower above that the building is tiny. It seems even tinier on the inside, so it was very accommodating of the guides to budge over a little for me to draw. As soon as I looked up at the entrance door from within, I wanted to sketch the skylight above the door. I loved the stained glass, through which the morning sun streamed, illuminating a salmon and making it glow.

I returned a few days later with the intention of painting the beautiful view of the Claddagh and Galway Bay from the top floor window. It being Galway, however, and winter at that, my plans were thwarted - it rained heavily all day, so that the view from the window was just a grey haze, the pedestrians crossing Wolfe Tone Bridge mostly invisible under huge umbrellas from my position far above them. So I looked around at the understated taste of the top floor display, and found my vantage point easily.

The long brown tube in the centre of the sketch is an eel-fishing net. Many years ago, when my husband Marcel and I were newly married, Marcel did a stint fishing for eels along the Corrib. It was a night-time job, and Marcel said the eels were awful creatures - little red mouths, he said, with sharp little teeth. I believe they're very popular in the Low Countries, where the catch was exported to. I mentioned this fact, my eel pedigree, to the guide.
"I've seen cormorants catching eels just there at the bottom of the tower," he said. "They throw the eels up in the air to get them in the right position to go down their throats in a line."
"Amazing!" I said. "Do they kill them first?"
"Yes," said the guide, "they stab them or whatever."
I said this to another guide on a subsequent visit.
"Sometimes they're not quite dead," he said. "You can sometimes see the cormorants' throats moving about with the eel wriggling around. They must have some stomach acid to deal with that."
"Surely," I agreed.
The fork on the wall to the right was our answer in times gone by to the cormorants' elegant way to catch eels.

(A New Zealander visited the Museum while I was sketching. "Friends of mine were watching ducks on a lake once with their children," he told us, "two parents, followed by a row of ducklings. It was all very lovely and then a cormorant appeared behind the last duckling, and gobbled them up, one by one.")

On the ground floor, there's a really spectacular window overlooking the River Corrib. It's in full spate at the moment, a raging torrent hurtling its way from Lough Corrib where it rises. We've had heavy rainfall lately, and to see such an uncontrollable deluge thundering alongside the civilised banks of a modern city seems if we are only fooling ourselves that we're in charge.
Walking past it last night with my fourteen-year-old son Paddy was almost shocking. We looked over the bridge and peered at the boiling rapids in the dark, a few feet from where we stood.
"It inviting," said Paddy.
I know what he meant. It's that crazy half-feeling you get of throwing yourself in that you sometimes get looking over the edge of a ferry.
"You'd last about three seconds, you know that," I said to him. There is no way you'd get out alive the way it is at the moment - and to think that in my youth I kayaked down the Corrib, past the Spanish Arch into Galway Bay, just the once, under no supervision whatsoever. I was a novice, and an experienced kayaking friend told me it was madness.

Back to the tower: I very much wanted to sketch the beautiful stained-glass window that overlooks the rushing water. The window is original, although a couple of the pink panes had to be replaced. You can tell which are the original panes - they are the ones with the more delicate, paler shade.

One of the amazing group of sketchers from around the world, with whom I'm in touch via Facebook and so on, astounded me with a comment.
"Is that Opera Pink by Daniel Smith?" she asked.
I had to fetch my tube and check - indeed it was. I was amazed that someone could know their colours so intimately. Furthermore, she finds it hard to get the colour where she lives, making it even more impressive. I should send her a tube just for her cleverness. Or Daniel Smith should.

A strong sense of time surrounded me during my visit to the Fishery Watchtower. It's wonderful to see oneself as a small, insignificant being on a long, long thread of history. I look forward to discovering more hitherto-unknown wonders that have been part of the fabric of Galway for centuries...and sharing them in words and pictures with you.

Entrance to the Fishery Watchtower is free and well worth a visit. Make sure to check the winter opening hours, as they're a little sporadic at the moment.





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